Mega churches stir tourism in Nigeria


LAGOS, Nigeria (eTN) – The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has released its executive summary of tourism events during the Christmas period. To the surprise of some, big evangelical churches attracted over 15 million people to their retreat grounds generating N90 billion (approximately $890 million] during the seven-day holiday period.

The figures from NTDC confirm what has been an unofficial belief that annual congresses by mega churches attract more people to the Lagos area in December than any other gathering in the world.

For a country that is just launching its tourism master plan, this is good news because, for once, figures show that domestic tourism is alive. Nigerian evangelical churches are the fastest growing Christian organizations in the world. They are popular all over Africa and in the West. One of the churches, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, just opened a new headquarter in Floyd, Texas. These churches are so popular worldwide that they have branches even in countries without Nigerian embassies.

According to NTDC director general Otunba Segun Runsewe, the “Holy Ghost Congress” at Ibafon, near Lagos, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God [RCCG] attracted over 3 million people from 34 countries–14 African and 20 non-African countries, spending over $10 million on accommodation and feeding in seven days by foreign delegates and about N22 billion (approximately $200 million) by the domestic delegates on accommodation, transportation, food, souvenirs, etc.

NTDC director general also said that Shiloh 2007, a gathering by the Winners Chapel, another evangelical church attracted 4.5 million people for its annual congress at Otta, near Lagos in Nigeria’s southwest.

Shiloh 2007 attracted delegates from 35 countries 12 African and 23 non-African countries who spent eight days. Foreign delegates spent just $1.5 million, while the Nigerian delegates spent about $630 million during the course of the eight-day affair.

Winners Chapel has the largest church building in the world seating over 50,000 devotees. It also has a very modern “Covenant “University and its leader, Dr. David Oyedepo, flies around in a private jet.

Meanwhile, figures from the retreat of another mega-church, The Deeper Life Bible Church and Christ Embassy were not made available by the agency. Another Christian organization, though not accepted by evangelicals as one of their own, Synagogue Church attracts about 60,000 foreigners every year from Korea, South Africa, and Scandinavian countries to its Lagos based center.